Thursday, June 26, 2014

Towers on the News Beat: Before and After the Movie

Knowing why Al Chop suggested that producer Clarence Greene ask Tom Towers to play him in "U.F.O." is easy.  The two knew one another, both had extensive experience as newspaper reporters, and each, for different reasons, was convinced the UFO issue deserved to be taken seriously, though in agreement that a delusional or fringe aspect also haunted the subject.

Regarding today's scans:  A 1954 Towers column from the Los Angeles Examiner recounts a meeting at Giant Rock in California, famous for "contactee" gatherings and lucrative book sales by and about folks who claimed generally friendly contact and excursions with flying saucer occupants.  In my correspondence with Towers, he never denied his negative impression of the contactee realm, and in fact his closing paragraph (as shown) about Venus and the like clearly illustrates this.  Incidentally, if you think we may have mentioned Giant Rock previously, you're correct.  When I put up my e-mail months ago from the late recording artist Andrew Gold, whose father Ernest Gold wrote the music score for the motion picture, the younger Gold had mentioned that his grandparents used to go to the Giant Rock affairs.  I'm betting they were in attendance while Towers was there -- too bad he didn't get an interview with them.  Anyway, in 1954 plans for the Greene-Rouse production were well underway, though Towers may not have known at this point that he would be requested for the movie role.

The June, 1956 photo from the Boston Sunday Advertiser shows Tom Towers looking over film in a projector in conjunction with publicity for "U.F.O."  A major "selling point" for the movie was the inclusion of two actual films of assumed UFOs, and that fact was extensively circulated via studio PR activities.

The 1957 Boston Sunday Advertiser column, originating from Towers' home base at the L.A. Examiner, saw print long after "U.F.O." was released, and temporary movie star Tom Towers was back at the newspaper, this time writing about a terrible air collision between an airplane and a jet over the densely populated San Fernando Valley in California, which killed five people in the air and two high school students on the ground -- with 73 more serious injuries inflicted upon students at the school over which the chaos occurred and flaming aircraft fragments rained.  Towers remained very keen about social issues related to aircraft in his position as aviation editor and, as we've indicated previously, noise abatement at airports near residential areas concerned him much of the time.

(Thanks to author and historian Barry Greenwood for the scans in today's entry.  Click on my main blog in the link list, and once there click on Barry's name noted at the top of that page's link list to access free copies of his former UFO history newsletters and other material via his Web site.)